Friday, December 02, 2011


Sumpango Kite Festival, Guatemala

Guatemala Travel 016Can you say "Big Kites"? Throughout Guatemala, folks celebrate the Day of the Dead on November 1st by flying kites up to the heavens to be closer to their ancestors. Up in the highlands in the village of Sumpango, these kites have inspired a competition and festival. For many months, mostly young people craft these kites from bamboo, tissue paper, glue and some plastics and show them off at the festival. Yes! They do attempt to fly them and some actually do fly.

Guatemala Travel 010A group of us traveled up to Guatemala City, then out to the village to experience this annual event. Amazingly everyone was allowed to walk right up to the kites! so that we got to really check out up close the handiwork that went into making these monsters. Here is a photo of work being done on one of the smaller kites and one of the giant beauties! Check out THAT giant framework! After the frame is assembled, the tissue paper covering is rolled out underneath the frame, then the edges are seals and the fringe is applied.

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All this work is making me hungry! No worries, there are plenty of good eats being grilled on the open air wood fires.

There was plenty of corn to eat - this is Meso-America after all which is the home of maize. You even get to choose your colors - white, yellow, blue, or mixed colors. And then if you want it steamed on the cob, grilled on the cob, or processed into tortillas. Yep, those are blue tortillas that these women are cooking over their wood fire, and they DO taste a little different, perhaps sweeter and earthier (if there is such a word).
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Blue corn tortillas
Here in Central America, everyone is quite comfortable in knowing exactly where their food comes Mr. Pig roasting over the fire. YUMMY!
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Mr. Pig - pick your portion!

If you have a need for a sweetie, there were ice cream vendors pushing carts full of frozen treats, tables laden with fruit, and these delicate twisted and fried concoctions covered in a sweet syrup of honey and local semi-processed cane sugar.
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Let's look at some more of those kites...
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Back strap weaving and Farming
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Guatemala Travel 040Guatemala Travel 041 An important part of the local tradition this special day is to visit the graves of family members. Not just a short how-you-doing visit, but a day filled with decorating the graves and having a full picnic meal at the grave site. The flowers were stunning and we found out that many are grown in the area for sale/export so the quality and variety are excellent. As I love color, my head was spinning from all of the hues. The women were dressed in their finest traditional clothing so I got to spy plenty of beautiful weaving and embroidery handiwork up close.

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Selling steamed corn

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All around the festival kids were selling handmade kites and vendors were selling cheap plastic commercial ones like my kids used to fly. In the open air fields lots of little kids were flying (or trying to fly) their own kites.

craft day 005So what do you think we cruisers did on a Craft Wednesday event later in the month? Yep. We made our own little kites. Michelle from the sailing vessel Enchantment ventured into the small nearby town of Fronteras and bought all the necessary materials; tissue paper and bamboo skewers. The kids in the shop even showed her how to make the kites!

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So we made our frames from the skewers and some sewing thread, then cut and glued designs to them. Cheryl from the sailing vessel Interlude even added the thread harness assembly so she could actually fly her kite from her boat. As per Michelle's idea, I'm going to simply display mine from the ceiling of my boat as a reminder of another interesting adventure into the culture and people of Guatemala.
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WOW!!! the colors, oh my goodness the colors, how wonderful!!
The kites are amazing, just amazing and so big. You are certainly enjoyoing all these things up close and personal. Take care my friend ~s
Roasted pig facial cheeks yield the juiciest, yummiest pieces of meat!
Very cool! Except the roasting pig. UGH.flooge
I'm also a quilter, and to see all those exuberant colors, wow! I would be arrested for touching everyone!
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